Pacific Power has submitted an application to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) for the purpose of removing four dams, three of which produce an enormous amount of hydro electric power.  Spokesman Randal South from DNGR, the non-profit creating Del Norte County’s public utility is opposed to the removal and believes it will have a significant impact on wholesale power costs incurred by the city of Crescent City and Del Norte County.  DNGR believes that the four dams would be more appropriately owned by the Bureau of Reclamation, or DNGR, with the Bureau of Reclamation managing the dams.  And furthermore is against the removal of the dams until other sufficient electric producing infrastructure is installed.  Other considerations are that the removal of the hydro electric and irrigation dams potentially put additional pressure on fossil based fuels which are a major source of global warming.
When questioning Randal South about the merits of removing the dams, “Randal South commented that there is nothing wrong with any of the dams and that the removal is one of the biggest wastes of public funds ever to be undertaken”.
The dispute over the dams started when Pacific Power was accused by the Yurok Tribe of not letting sufficient water out of the dams to maintain water quality levels, and Pacific Power’s refusal to work with the community to build a fish ladder, which is considered the standard practice.  Instead Pacific Power decided to raise electric rates in Del Norte county for the removal of the dams.  Three of the 4 dams proposed for removal appear to produce significant amounts of power, and the other dams provides water to local farmers.  There are alternative solutions to the immediate removal of these dams, but Pacific Power isn’t exactly an investor in infrastructure when it comes to the grid, and we know this because of the engineering study done in 2003.
In 2003 it was determined that Pacific Power’s grid was a “C” rated grid at best, but many believe it has moved into “D+” territory, due to the frequent outages at night in the Grants Pass area.  For those who were in Del Norte County in 2003, they may recall the county’s attempt at going public resulting in an engineering study.  The attempt was squelched by attorney Bob Black who took over the position of the previous attorney who died in office, while representing the city of Crescent City, Del Norte County, and several other cities located in Siskiyou County.
Not everyone in Del Norte County supports Randal South’s position.  A recent communication from Roger Gitlin suggest that Supervisor Gitlin believes that the dams should be removed, and made the following comment:
“The amount of energy developed from Hydro-electric sources is under 2%
and it is difficult for me to justify man-made remedies like fish ladders as
appropriate response for not removing the dams.  We will just have
to agree to disagree on this one.
My best,
Roger Gitlin”
Unfortunately Supervisor Gitlin is wrong on this one.  More than 6% of the power in this region comes from hydro electric power.  The source on this information was taken from FERC’s website  California’s hydro power is down due to a lack of rainfall, and California is a net importer of power which substantially threatens the industrial sector of this state.  For these reasons DNGR is opposed to the removal of any Klamath dams at this time, but does support significant investments in the energy infrastructure, particularly the smart grid, so that removal of the dams can be reevaluated in terms of investment infrastructure.  Additionally DNGR supports best practices to improve water quality, including the construction of fish ladders which is the standard practice.
For those wishing to make a comment on the removal please visit FERC’s website at, search for the dockets related to the removal of the Klamath dams may be located at FERC’s website, or by typing the following docket number P-2082.
Randal South

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